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February 24, 2009

Fifth Week Blues:  William the Conqueror and Cappuccino

This weekend marks the end of the fifth week of the Oxford term and I have suffered from a typical case of "the fifth week blues." This widely recognized condition is characterized by fatigue of intellectual exercise, drooping eyelids and general weariness of the library (yes, it is possible to be sore from reading). To fight this ailment, two things have proved immensely helpful.

The first defense against the fifth week blues is coffee. I have recently rediscovered the virtue of cappuccino to reinvigorate the mind. I have long considered coffee to be a magnanimous drink, but I hadn't considered its benefit in this area. After hours of illuminating study of William the Conqueror and the following Norman kings of England (I am studying English Medieval history for my primary tutorial), I had the richest cappuccino ever brewed. Coffee reminds me of the qualities of the library: Warm, dark, and deeply contemplative, it's no wonder students like it so much. The fact that it contains caffeine is at best a fringe benefit.

Here at the end of fifth week, some friends suggested that we go see C. S. Lewis's house, the Kilns, to relieve ourselves of the blues. Daniel, Chris, and I, with some friends from the Oxford Study Abroad Programme took the bus about five minutes east of Oxford to see Lewis's residence during his 30 year career at Oxford. It was a simple English home, which now functions as a boarding house for Lewis scholars and students visiting Oxford. It is a lovely house, and though the tour mostly consisted of the story of Lewis's quite intellectual life, I was left only with the desire to reread the books of the revered author. I think Lewis would appreciate that. As the tour guide said, Lewis didn't intend for his readers to look toward himself, but to look with him toward that which he wrote about.
So, having survived fifth week, with the help of cappuccino and Lewis (and my dear colleagues), I look forward to yet another delightful and exhausting week at Oxford.

Thomas Phippen
Fellow, Hilary Term '09


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  • February 24, 2009 // 02:42 pm //  # 
    Matthew Watson's avatar Matthew Watson

    “Coffee reminds me of the qualities of the library: Warm, dark, and deeply contemplative.” That’s a classic! Good to know you’re surviving, Thomas. smile

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